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The straight poop

I expect that Gavin Ehringer's piece on rodeo ("The mud, the blood & the poop," cover story, Aug. 19-25) will bring some heated reactions, and from both sides of the arena fence. Gavin made good use of his experience within the professional organization and as a columnist and commentator standing on objective ground.

I'd even go so far as to say that Ehringer has had something to do with the sport maturing into a big-time player, competing effectively with other professional sport organizations.

When you interest both sides -- even irritate them a little -- and bring more understanding to those who don't take sides, I call that journalism.

--Gary Vorhes

Via the Internet

Typical politician

Yes, Joel Hefley never said how many terms he would serve in Congress. Joel Hefley did, however, say he would vote for a federal term limit bill -- a bill that had the "snowball in hell" chance of passing. Unless Joel Hefley is stupid, he also knew it would not pass.

One problem with Jeff Crank's statement (Letters, Aug. 19-25) about leadership: After 20 years, Joel Hefley is still one of the 10 most obscure congressmen!

And disingenuous to say we can replace an incumbent congressman in a "very safe seat."

In 1995, Joel Hefley said, "I will be a congressman for only a short period of my life." He is typical of a professional politician, since he has 28 years in elected office, including the time he spent in the Colorado Legislature. I submit that 20 more years in Congress is not a short period!

-- Nicholas Werle

Colorado Springs

Reason to act

Joel Hefley, our current representative in Congress and the House ethics committee chairman, has been very quiet about current ethics complaints in the House of Representatives.

Many watchdog groups and media outlets have asked him to act on numerous charges against House Majority Leader Tom DeLay ("DeLaying tactics," news, July 29-Aug. 4). Most recently, the Campaign Legal Center sent Chairman Hefley a letter requesting an independent counsel to look into the complaints against DeLay.

In response, Hefley stated there needs to be an "overwhelming reason" to act. He has also neglected -- for several months -- the alleged bribery of Congressman Nick Smith on the floor of the House during a vote on the Medicare drug law.

Alleged bribery on the floor of the House is to me an overwhelming reason for the ethics committee to act. Another reason is that four of the members of his committee have taken donations from DeLay's political action committee. How can these members investigate ethics violations by a man who is critical to their political survival? The answer is they can't.

Ethics committees must always act independently of partisan political motives and must always ensure that members of all parties act ethically and legally. That Congressman Hefley has not done so makes me wonder, what is he doing to earn the generous pay of the taxpayers? And what is he doing to be a productive chairman of one of the most important committees in Congress?

Congressman Hefley, the citizens of Colorado Springs are awaiting your answers.

-- Bud Gordon

Colorado Springs

Undignified assault

As a veteran with 25 years of military service, I find the recent attacks on Sen. John Kerry's service in Vietnam disappointing but understandable.

I am disappointed in my fellow veterans because their actions represent a politically motivated, undignified assault on a man who volunteered for combat duty, was wounded, and received two awards for valor. (Those who dispute these awards should take up their argument with the Department of the Navy.) And, let us not forget that all of this is done in support of his political opponent, our president, who, by most accounts served honorably, but nonetheless chose not to fight for his country.

My disappointment at these attacks, however, is tempered because I understand that they represent one aspect of Vietnam's tragic legacy. War is a horribly scarring, traumatic experience that leaves many of its victims unable to make the distinction between the nature of the war and the nature of the warriors. Those attacking Kerry are unwilling or unable to concede that American policy in Vietnam, and its consequences on the ground, can be criticized without condemning the veterans who fought there.

Hence, the real motivation for the attacks on Sen. Kerry is revenge -- revenge based on an unwillingness to separate Sen. Kerry's genuinely "anti-war" activities from his incorrectly perceived "anti-warrior" activities. An open-minded review of Kerry's activities after he returned from Vietnam clearly shows that he did not attack his fellow veterans for their actions, but rather, he argued then, as he does now, that the tragedy of Vietnam came from a failure of American political leadership and not from the soldiers in the field. Sadly, many veterans cannot accept this distinction. Unfortunately, however, there are many more who simply will not.

--William Thomas

Colorado Springs

Connect the dots

The New York Times and Washington Post have now reported the true relationship between the so-called Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and the George Bush campaign. They have received much of their financing from two Texans with longtime ties to the Bush family -- one a political associate of Karl Rove's and the other a trustee of the foundation for Bush senior's presidential library. Strategic advice came from a Texas publicist who prepared Bush's father for his vice presidential debate. Their TV commercials come from the same team that produced the mocking ad of Michael Dukakis in a tank during Bush's senior's first presidential campaign.

What is George W. Bush's reaction? He maintains he still hasn't seen these ads and he "respects" John Kerry's Vietnam service! Then why won't he denounce the lies and distortions of the Swift Boat Veterans?

Jim Rassman was unquestionably there and unquestionably under fire when John Kerry risked his life to rescue him. Is the shrapnel still in John Kerry's thigh from a grenade a self-inflicted wound? John McCain immediately called these ads "dishonest and dishonorable" (McCain knows about honor) and called on Bush to denounce them. The American people are still waiting.

-- Steven Meyer

Colorado Springs

(Retired major, U.S. Air Force)

Where was W?

How unwise for Bush supporters to take this stand against John Kerry regarding his military service, when in fact Dubya's association with the military is in such question. It is too bad George didn't listen to John McCain, and it would have been better yet if he had chosen him for his vice presidential running mate.

-- J. Sowell

Colorado Springs

Missing in action

How can George Bush sanction an attack on John Kerry's military service when he refuses to clarify whether he failed to show up for service for an entire year? CBS News concluded, "The available files do not clear up the 'missing' section of the president's National Guard service."

Bush promised on Meet the Press to release all of his military records.

Yet the AP is suing the Pentagon for unreleased records that Bush could easily make public. Why is Bush withholding the information and breaking his promise? Unless he has something to hide?

The Bush campaign claims that the matter is resolved. But according to the Associated Press lawsuit, "A significant, ongoing controversy exists over the president's military service during the Vietnam War, specifically whether he performed his required service between May and October 1972."

Since the AP is a cooperative made up of most of the newspapers in the country, I cannot understand the Republican Party, which I knew and respected, supporting people like this administration.

What has happened to the respectable men in politics?

-- Norma Struthers

Colorado Springs

Truth of the matter

Let me get this straight. We're currently involved in a controversial war in which nearly 1,000 U.S. soldiers have lost their lives and approximately 6,500 more have been wounded. We've lost 1.2 million jobs in the last four years, the deficit is at record levels, and the campaign issue dominating our media is whether John Kerry was under fire when he saved the life of a fellow crewman on the Bay Hap River in 1969?

The truth of the matter really doesn't seem to be in question. On the one side, we have the medals themselves, military records, and eyewitness accounts, all of which support Kerry's version of events. On the other side, we have the testimony of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, several of whose members are now contradicting what they said about the incident at the time. For example: in an official Navy report dated 23 March 1969, George Elliott, who has recently attacked Kerry in a TV ad, wrote: "Shortly after LTJR KERRY was informed that he had a man overboard, he immediately turned his boat around to assist the man in the water, who by this time was receiving sniper fire from the river banks. LTJR KERRY, from his exposed position on the bow of the boat, managed to pull LT RASSMAN aboard despite the painful wound in his right arm."

We're now supposed to believe that this isn't what happened?

What makes the whole thing even more ridiculous is the fact that Kerry's political opponents have no combat experience whatsoever. Dick Cheney? Five deferments and "other priorities." John Ashcroft? Seven deferments. Karl Rove? Didn't serve. Remember: Kerry won three purple hearts, a bronze star, and a silver star. George W. Bush -- to put it charitably -- found himself a safe spot in the National Guard.

John Kerry served his country with honor and distinction and then came home to speak out against a war that history has already judged to be a mistake.

History can't be changed, so let's get back to the pressing issues of today.

-- Allan Burns

Colorado Springs

Frightening and disgusting

We are new loft owners in downtown Colorado Springs and wish to share some concerns we have regarding our neighborhood.

The major issue is the homeless situation that affects all of us in Colorado Springs.

The homeless have now taken control of Acacia Park. Their day begins at about 6:30 a.m. when they go to the park and begin to establish their group territories by occupying all the picnic tables and securing resting and sleeping areas under every tree.

The areas that they occupy consist not only of a group of people (a dozen or so in each group), but includes all of their personal belongings such as blankets, sleeping bags, backpacks, camping gear, dogs and bikes. Any other visitors to the park, including taxpayers, are not able to enjoy the facilities of the park due to this occupation, control and intimidation.

These homeless groups, in various stages of drunkenness and highs from drug use, occupy the entire park (excluding the fountain area) from morning to night, and many are spending the nights there in the park. As a family consisting of a teenager and a dog living downtown, it requires us to use these areas and the park many times during the day and night. It is very disheartening, frightening and disgusting to witness this takeover of our neighborhood park and streets.

Isn't there some city ordinance or regulation that disallows loitering in a city park? When these groups leave (and the only time they do is to be fed at the Marian House), all of their trash is left behind for the city to clean up. Currently the Colorado Springs taxpayer cannot enjoy the use of this park even though the homeowner/ taxpayer/downtown shopper provides the money for its maintenance and upkeep.

Is this what we want for downtown Colorado Springs?

-- Robert and Laurie Adams

Colorado Springs

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